Never before has there been so much competition for third place in the mahler conducting competition of the bamberger symphoniker, which was held under the name "the mahler competition" has long since achieved world renown.
No fewer than three aspiring conductors were deemed worthy of a third prize, which after all is endowed with 10,000 euros. Wilson ng from hong kong, harry ogg from great britain and – as the only woman – katharina wincor from austria had advanced to the final rounds of the competition, but the "endgame" was not to be missed remained closed to them.
A close race
Finnegan downie dear was the winner from great britain, who was able to enjoy 30,000 euros in prize money as well as a powerful prestige win in the conducting scene. Second place, also respectably endowed with 20,000 euros, went to thomas jung from germany.
The prominent jury did not have an easy time with their evaluations, because after inviting only 12 finalists from far more than a hundred applications, the quality was quite tight. The selection committee, headed by the composer’s granddaughter marina mahler, had to decide from the 29th to the 20th prize. June to 4. July in four rounds, assessing many rehearsal conductors and then making sometimes tough decisions.
So there is a lot to listen to, but also a lot to look at, because gestures and facial expressions also count when it comes to leading an orchestra safely and inspiringly through a symphonic score. This could be seen in exemplary fashion at the final concert and prize-giving ceremony on sunday afternoon, which the competition winner was allowed to conduct alone.
Finnegan downie dear first led the interpretation of the commissioned work with the circumstantial title "move 4 ‘memory full’" by miroslav srnka. The piece pleasantly meanders along, captivates with many a peculiar sound idea and surprises with its final culmination.
Despite the absence of a barre, the conductor’s first impulses already seemed very clear and propulsive, which prompted anticipation of the later mahler symphony.
First, however, the award ceremony had to be broadcast over the airwaves, in english of course, so that it could be understood worldwide. Intendant marcus R.
Axt and chief conductor jakub hru grad ša performed sovereignly, and the applause of the 100 admitted witnesses as well as the musicians was also directed to the third-place winners.
Finnegan downie dear started and finished the performance of the complete 4th symphony with the orchestra playing in a somewhat reduced line-up. Gustav mahler’s symphony. The 30-year-old brite conducts quite cautiously, economically and rationally, but with meaningful gestures, which in the course of the first movement could nevertheless increase to wide-ranging movements.
He is not the type of fiery spring-ins-field like gustavo dudamel – the famously first competition winner – or a driving charismatic. He is more suited to the serving role, the serious, quasi-kapellmeisterly. Nevertheless, he ignited fire in the final movement of the mahler symphony, for which he had an ideal partner in the vocal part with barbara hannigan.